Christmas these days
Christmas these days is similar to weddings these days. There are lots of conventions specific to how you would celebrate your special day. I have heard a fair few gasps of surprise/horror at the thought of eating beef rather than turkey, doing it present-free or celebrating it on the "wrong" day. Not that I do any of these subversive things... but then I have my way of doing it too.
These days, Christmas looms like some twinkling, glittering disco ball on the horizon. It always seems to come very soon after summer and the run up is full of indulgent parties and a general acceptance and love of winter. I mean, it's just so cosy and snuggly! We REJOICE in the darkness and light candles, sing more and wear jingle bell jumpers.
I like looking back at something that has stayed constant in itself but taken on different meanings throughout the years for those involved. It's a barometer of change and development. The other day, I was talking with friends about a summer camp we all work on. Its the same pattern every year and we do pretty much the same thing - except that every year we come together bringing with us what we have learnt in the intervening year. For better or worse we change every year which means our approach to each of the repeated tasks is slightly different. It's fascinating how we who have returned year on year bring something different to the group dynamic which alters the chemistry we create. There are also people who have come and gone but the small core group who are my most favourite "gang" have all grown up over the years knowing this week will give us some perspective on our otherwise very individual lives. Christmas is kind of similar - kind of.
Then, and now, Christmas can be great. Here are some observations:
1. The music hasn't changed AT ALL! There was a time when fantastic Christmas songs were being produced left, right and centre. Even in the late 90's and early 2000's we had "Baby, It's Cold Outside" by Tom Jones, "Christmas Is All Around" by Billy Mack and I even have fond-ish memories of The Darkness' "Christmas Time". Literally NOTHING good has been recorded since then. Sorry Bieber + all the reality TV show winners.
2. Christmas needs children to make it magical. My sisters and I plus our cousins on both sides are all adults and none of us have babies (until now). Without them, the food takes centre stage and Santa Claus is left to get on with more important stuff. This year one sister has created a little baby which has become a huge magnet and drawn the whole family together. The power of babies is strong.
3. It is possible NOT to overeat. My trick is to decide on priorities and allocate portion sizes accordingly. This may change year on year depending on what food is in store. For example, this year I was most keen on cheese, then pudding then the side veg, then the stuffing, then the turkey, then the potatoes. This is a particularly tricky order because you have to keep enough room to make it to the end.
4. Togetherness is the most important thing. Make the effort, park your personal routine and make the most of it!
5. Mulled wine should only ever be drunk out of a mug, piping hot and OUTSIDE.
6. I repeat, mulled wine should NOT be drunk in a hot room next to the fire out of a wine glass. I don't know why I feel so strongly about this but it just makes me squirm and induces a surprise/horror gasp from me.
7. It's "merry" Christmas and a "happy" new year. If you start with "happy" Christmas then new year doesn't sound right.
Merry Christmas one and all
Be kinder than you were before
Give your time, your smiles, your grace
Keep your manners and your tummy space!